Jessie’s Girl

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Dear Dharma,

I am a man in my 40’s, married (for 2 years) and with a rewarding business I am working very hard at building.  So you would think I should be self-confident and happy, and I mostly am except for one thing!

My wife was married previously (no children) and had been divorced for several years before we met.  The problem is her ex, who is still very friendly with her family, to the point that he is invited to family events, and thinks nothing of showing up on weekends to informal bbq’s and such.  I don’t in any way think there is still anything between him and my wife, but the idea that this guy is still ingrained into the family makes me uncomfortable.

I don’t know if this is normal?  To me if the relationship is over, it’s over, and that means contact would eventually drop to nothing, or close to it.  It’s almost like he was closer to her family than to her, so only divorced one part of the bunch!

I am torn, because I don’t want to avoid family events, but this is starting to make me want to stay home!  How can I get past this?

I Got Jessie’s Girl, but Jessie got the Family

Dear Rick Springfield,

Here’s a question for you… would you like it better if she (your wife) and her ex-husband hated each other, had a bitter and terrible break up and people surrounding them had to choose sides, hide relationships and friendships and be all awkward?

If it just didn’t work out between them, and they are able to maintain a civil relationship, isn’t there something good about that?  Isn’t that what we need more of, more acceptance and more forgiving, less grudges for the sake of grudges and less adherence to social structure and the emotions we think we are supposed to have?

Let’s face it… we aren’t supposed to like our exes, and we sure as hell aren’t supposed to like our spouses exes.  Becaaaaaause… well… we’re just… we’re not supposed to.

Now if I’m missing some key factors here, like he was a douche bag throughout their entire relationship, he cheated, he hit her, drugs, alcohol, bad taste in decor, whatever the case may be, then that changes everything.  The fact that she or her family would allow him any closeness at all would be ridiculous, and you would be 100% on point.

Or if he’s a dick to you at these family functions, if he’s anything less than civil, I’ll take it all back and say talk to your wife and tell her what isn’t working for you, and make your decisions from there.

However, from what you’ve described, it doesn’t sound like this guy is a threat.  It sounds like he has a relationship with a family – her family, albeit, but a relationship nonetheless, and that shouldn’t have to cease because you’re uncomfortable.

And honestly, IMHO, there’s nothing classier than a man who is comfortable enough in his own skin to be around an exes former lover and maintain a slight air of “I’ve got her now, buddy… Can I get you a beer?”

Dharma

 

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